The show had gone, if I may be so bold as to pat myself on the back, spectacularly. I, particularly, had been incredible.
I don’t mean by this to come off as egotistical, I’ve had a number of performances over the course of the run in which I had not been incredible. That night, however, was not one such performance. I was spot on, every line, every gesture emotionally connecting with the very core of the character, embodying him heart and soul as I poured myself into my craft, infusing words on a page with life and vigor.
I love nights like that. Nothing energizes me more.
We finished the show and, as we took our bows, four hundred people called out to us, taking to their feet to shower us with enthusiastic, if incoherent, cries of praise. The applause was thunderous, it was inspiring.
But I couldn’t let it distract me.
My eyes scanned the crowd, seeking any among them who’s applause might be ingenuine, anyone who might not have been honestly moved by my riveting performance, who might simply be going along with the people who surrounded him. And, as I always do, I found a handful among the audience insufficiently moved by my work, who applauded but, no matter how gifted I was, did not weep.
We finished our bows, and as the curtains closed I tracked down the stage manager, to tell him what I’d seen.
I reported everyone who’s applause had been insufficient, gave seat numbers and brief descriptions, and only when I had finished did I retire to my dressing room, to wash off my stage makeup and change back into my street clothes.
Some of the other cast members planned on hitting a pub to celebrate another successful performance, and for a moment I considered it, but I was tired and, with six shows a week, I knew there’d be plenty of other opportunities to join them at a pub. Every town has a pub, and they all look more or less the same once you’re a month into the schedule. What difference does missing one night make?
So I changed back into my street clothes and, avoiding the crowds waiting in front of the theater, made my exit out the back. It isn’t that I don’t love my fans, it’s just that after a performance that good I’m drained. I have nothing left to give, and the autograph hounds don’t always respect that.
Better to sneak out where nobody thinks to look.
And as I exited the theater into the ally behind the building, I noted the dumpster, a ways away, stuffed to overflowing with the dismembered bodies of the people I’d pointed out to the stage manager a short time before. One arm, hanging over the side, gave the slightest twitch as I passed by, exposed wiring sparking as the fingers reached toward me, then fell dead and limp again, smacking the side of the bin with a dull thud.
When I first took this gig I was surprised to learn how many replicants there were out there, going about normal lives with no idea what they really were. After a few months, however, I’d become cynical. I played my roll, pointed them out to the stage manager and let him take care of them. All I wanted was to do my job, go back to my motel room and get a few hours sleep before I had to be back on the road in the morning, to the next town, for the next performance.
It’s not the most glamorous life in the world, but I’m doing what I love, I bring entertainment to the masses and I help catch a few stray replicants. Overall, it’s a pretty good gig.
I mean, the travel’s a bitch, but it’d be petulant of me to complain about that one detail. After all, I knew what was required of me when I took the job, and I wouldn’t swap the job for anything in the world.
I like the life I lead, and the travel is part of that, so I accept it.